We’re passing through an era when synthesizers have seeped into damn near every corner of avant-garde music, and yet the technology these days is too seldom used in the service of free improvisation. Oh sure, we’re treated to plenty of experimental techno, ambient drone, industrial and even underground rock all swimming in synth-based textures, atmosphere, programming and other compositional elements. But for those of us whose ears are tuned to the outer limits of jazz and noise, just about the only athletic bruisers willing to step to the plate on a consistent basis have been the veteran duo of drummer Didi Kern and keyboardist Philip Quehenberger. And to remind of us of their long-running exceptionality, the prolific Austrians are dropping LINZ, a ruthlessly sweaty live album meant as a celebration of the tandem’s 15-year relationship.
Comprised of a pair of side-long pieces recorded at the Stadtwerkstatt, in the Austrian city of Linz, this @absurdly kinetic album–released on Boris Hauf’s Berlin-based Shameless label–is the sonic equivalent of a 28-minute submission hold. Quehenberger (who also has produced electronic music for the Editions Mego imprint) absolutely jabs, stabs and mangles his keys, producing dense, bass-focused litanies of vicious swirls, growling motors and gut-rupturing oscillations; he’s both frantic and utterly muscular sounding. Kern, meanwhile, flails about like an Adderall-gobbling octopus, filling in the cracks with deep, thudding skins and clusters of splashing cymbals. Most of the time the drummer (whose long list of credits includes work with Mats Gustafsson, Fuckhead, Weasel Walter and BulBul) kneels before the lords of chaos, yet there also emerge deliciously brief pattern bursts of rock-like linearity, tattered funk beats and a brand of jittery swing reaching all the way back to the classic hard bop days.
Of course, it’s all too tempting to draw parallels between the Kern-Quehenberger sound and a few of the mavericks of yore who themselves have used synthesizers in avant-jazz settings: Sun Ra and Miles Davis’ fusion-era ensembles for sure; there’s also Wayne Horvitz’s rumbling tones with Pigpen and the greatly underappreciated Bruce Ditmas, a drummer and synth explorer whose maniacally percussive recordings from the ’70s really kind of haunt the music heard on this record. Ultimately, though, Kern and Quehenberger have developed their own, unique language, one that will sock you right in the face on the wonderfully pugnacious LINZ.”
“PLAY GODDAMN LOUD. That is the message that suits LINZ, and nothing else.
Philipp Quehenberger (keyboards) and Didi Kern (drums) are now part of the thriving Austrian underground, which is little known in these parts, but is very rich. Since the musicians played together for the first time (in CBGB’s in 2002!) They have often hung around each other’s neighborhood, but each has also set out its own route. Quehenberger could be heard on a wide variety of labels and all kinds of zones within electronic music. One time with relatively streamlined sound constructions with a distant, thoughtful flair, but just as often with a direct, physical approach, a form of sweaty rock ‘n’ roll without strings and drums.
Kern is in turn also a musician who deftly avoids all booths. Ever motorized with the infamous Fuckhead (with striking performer Didi Bruckmayr), then with cult band BulBul and more recently regularly with international improvisers. He has the duo Poisonous Frequencies with trumpet player Petr Vrba, he can be heard on the side of Mats Gustafsson and he is part of the DEK Trio with pianist Elisabeth Harnik and reed player Ken Vandermark. However, the duo with Quehenberger remains a very special exhaust valve. Everything is possible, everything is allowed and everything actually happens.
This 28-minute recording, recorded in Stadtwerkstatt Linz on 4 November 2017, is a performance of the “nothing in the hands, nothing in the sleeves” type. From the start you can hear the unrest and anticipation of the audience present and you feel that you are awaiting a noise or something like that. Through two album halves the two constantly use each other as a sounding board, in which the keyboard sounds are hurled around like paint in an abstract-expressionistic painting and Kern not so much responds with a similar chaos, but with uplifting, inciting and endless rattling patterns.
It has something animalic, the way they play. Quehenberger lets his keys growl like a vicious diesel engine, but also smudges, as if you put sound knives in the neck. It is like the soundtrack of a first-person shooter game, where there is always a surprise or bloody outrage around the corner. The core in its turn continues to pick up the fire with a style that combines frenzy, timing, funk, groove, trance and colorful color range. Somewhere between Paal Nillsen-Love, John Herndon, Brian Chippendale and Bernard Purdie, with tight accents, blowing cymbals and flaming salvos.
So no, this is not a feast of finesse and dosage, of thoughtful exercise and melancholy. This is a straightforward exercise in sweaty trance, a swirling mass of sound that constantly flirts with chaos and noise but remains too alert to slip into a directionless soup, and that you ideally listen to at maximum volume.
… or even better, you undergo this live. That is possible on Sunday, August 26, on the second day of the Summer Bummer Festival. More info HERE. The album appeared digitally and on vinyl and can be purchased via Bandcamp or during the festival.”
Guy Peters, enola.be
“The amazing life altering party your parents wouldn’t let you attend in high school.”
David Menestres, tone science
“In spite of the undoubted bravura of both the musicians, more than their virtuosic ability, the muscular exhibition is impressed of this project. Their experiences as shiftworkers in the Austrian scene in rock, techno and free jazz all converge here, with their noisy energy and the tirelessness of the musicians.”
Gilberto Ongaro, MusicMap
“The rhythm is infectious and forces you, unconsciously and almost effortlessly, to move and even dance to, The dark, atmospheric keyboards deepens this kinetic feeling of time and space. And Linz demonstrates how a wild free-improv set can meet prog-rock and techno aesthetics, blow your mind, rewire your nerves and leave you smiling.”
Eyal Hareuveni, FreeJazzBlog
“Plus und Plus ergibt Hyperplus. Drummer Didi Kern ist seit jeher Garant für furiose Faxen und höllischen Punch. Als treibende Rhythmuskraft von Bulbul, Fuckhead und Broken.Heart.Collector ist er weithin bekannt. Doch tritt er laufend auch in einer Vielzahl anderer Kontexte in Erscheinung und beackert dort wie da souverän ein weites Land, das von Prügelrock bis ArtyFartyImpro reicht. Seit mittlerweile mehr als 15 Jahren kollaboriert er – im Duoformat oder unter Einbezug weiterer Mucke-Tiere – mit Philipp Quehenberger, der hierzulande Pionierarbeit auf dem Sektor freigeistiger elektronischer Musik geleistet hat und sie ungebrochen leistet. Immenses Spektrum, mitreißende Energie, frische und elaborierte Sounds: Synthesizer würden Quehenberger kaufen. Stehen die beiden gemeinsam auf der Bühne, gibt es keine Aufwärmübungen, Sekunde eins, die Klangwelt steht, der Zug rattert und rast durch ein waberndes Gewölk aus Tönen, durch eine Poltergeistkolonie, Tasten kreischen durch das eine oder andere Inferno, ein kurzes Ruckeln und Brut zeln, Orkanwarnung, dann rauscht man weiter durch Raum schiffrui nen und Mitternachtskathedralen. Das aktuelle Release fängt die spezielle symbiotische Dynamik des flotten Zweiers überzeugend ein. Es wird geballert, es wird gesegelt, es wird Zerfall zelebriert. In irrwitzigen Momenten werden irrwitzige Rhythmus we chsel veranstaltet, in schönen Mo menten wird es ja noch schöner. Linz ist ein Live-Album und basiert auf dem Mitschnitt eines Konzerts, das Quehenberger/Kern 2017 in der Stadtwerkstatt spielten. Musikjournalismus macht am meisten Freude, wenn man über Musik schreibt, die einem klar macht, wieviel Vergeblichkeit im Bestreben steckt, Worte finden zu wollen für Musik.”
“It’s been more than 10 years since we had not talked about Boris Hauf and we would almost regret not having followed his path a little closer, especially since this production is not really a novelty. Indeed, Boris Hauf has already released an album called Clark, published in 2006 by the Sijis label which is a kind of reissue that is the opportunity to move from CDr to vinyl and republish this record on his own label, Shameless Records. By cons it is a rough reissue since we go from 7 to 6 tracks, most songs have changed titles, and duration. Here is the updated and remastered version of Clark.
The disc opens with Fantods on a kind of deep bass and cracklings, a brief abstract introduction before going on to small regular metal hits that form a minimal rhythm. The musician enriches his composition with new elements (bass, squeaks) to form a more complete rhythm, in a minimal style that drifts in his last third to sounds a little more industrial.
Most elements of the album are already laid. Even in its construction, Mind Tapes takes again the format of this first title with a rather catchy minimal rhythm, crossed by small wriggling before ending on an explosion of granular textures. To listen to it, we must be able to guess that it is not a recent production: if the groove is still there, effective, the choice of sounds may betray the age of this production, especially on No Stop Flight whose oscillating drone makes us think of a didgeridoo before continuing on bass pulsations.
The second part of the album is an opportunity to test other things, including Le Chien, one of the highlights of this album and probably the title closest to the original album. This is a pure minimal electro subtly destructured, evolving on the end towards a particularly binary techno. Another nice surprise, the electro-ambient of Violet Moon, crossing of drone and breath which abandons itself in weightlessness, on slow melodic jingles. Beautiful !
We end with the extreme minimalism of Corona, its bass pulsations punctuated by places of sizzling textures and electronic.
A very pleasant album of a minimal and intelligent electro.”
Fabrice Allard, EtherREAL Webzine
“CLARK is full of semi-structured dangers, disco howls, cyborg jockeys and fusions of tiny percussion parts.”
Radio Nacional de España
“the re-issue on vinyl makes a lot of sense. It has a great quality and doesn’t sound dated at all, unlike some of the computer music that appeared a few years before that, the technoid music of Hauf still sounds remarkable fresh; to me it seems like a wise decision to re-issue this.”
Vital Weekly 1069 / Frans de Waard
“a seriously deep set of tracks that sound like minimal techno that’s been disassembled, then rebuilt in a slightly different order with half a dozen of the pieces missing… “Clark” is perhaps as far removed from techno as it’s possible to be whilst still being able to justify labelling it as techno, which I will, but this is an extremely deep, insular journey that benefits from focussed headphone listening. Releases like this have been appearing more frequently lately but for a 2005 release this was well ahead of the curve and its release is certainly justified.”
Chain D.L.K. / Stuart Bruce
“The Syncopated Molecules in Microwave Meals will Finally Understand”
Carnage News / Riccardo Gorone
“dry and cutting edge electronics, post-industrial techno and minimal”
Rockerilla / Roberto Mandolini
“Clark makes wonderful use of intelligence and sensations. It’s a majestic EP of conciseness and relevance, combining the multiple facets of today’s music to propel them towards a future with exciting modulations.”
Silence and Sound / Roland Torres
“Clark is rising in my estimation with every play”
Include Me Out / Robin Tomens
“post industrial minimal music”
Digital in Berlin / piradio
TV POW (shLP03)
For those familiar with TV Pow’s roots in electro-acoustic drift and post-everything outsider research a hip-hop album will surely seem like one nasty-ass curveball. Yet there exists a potent sense of organic development to their latest effort. Think about context: it’s 2016, and visionary folks like Kamasi Washington, the Brainfeeder crew and Ratking in their own, have in their own, unique ways transformed the oftentimes impenetrable borders between hip-hop, avant-jazz and experimental music downright porous. Cross-genre collaboration and pollination are quickly becoming norms. In steps the trio of Michael Hartman, Todd Carter and Brent Gutzeit–along with a talented cast of rappers and singers–who deliver an album of transmissions from those very borderlands. The sheer amount of vitality coursing through these tracks is bonkers. Deeply political street poetry swells up from lurching static and flickering organs. Ghost Dog-style downtempo minimalism peels back to reveal beat-work all gnarled and broken. And then there’s plenty of moments where all that sublime syncopation flat-out refuses categorization. If part of music’s peculiar magic is to connect listeners to a sense of unity bigger themselves, then TV Pow certainly achieves it.
Evocative rhymes and soulful voices over pulsing, humanistic beats. Optimistic. Realistic. Somnambulistic pianos and hypnotic bass lines. A dash of frenetic near-futurism. Timeless and immediate. Flow and poetry. Feels like the city. Sounds like the summer.
G Carl Purcell
An argument against the Fermi paradox is that we’re sending out, and listening for, the wrong transmissions. Send out the sounds of TV Pow, give it another 10 years, and then get back to us.
A few years ago Berlin-based saxophonist Boris Hauf convened a combo of three reed players (including his own baritone) and three drummers. All save himself came from Chicago, and while you might sometime find all five of the other guys in the audience for the same show, it took Hauf to get Keefe Jackson, Jason Stein, Michael Hartman, Steven Hess and Frank Rosaly on the same stage at the same time. Disclosure – I wrote the liner notes for that first release, a CD on Clean Feed. But even if someone hadn’t paid me to do so, I’d have said good things about that album, and I’ll say some more about this one. Hauf has dropped his name this time out in favor of the original album’s, but this is still his band, playing compositions that reflect his immersion in American sounds. “Bleed” has a monolithic squall and stomp structure that reminds me of vintage Julius Hemphill music, always a nice thing to be reminded of, only Hauf’s stripped out the funk. What you find when that is gone is a granite tower of moving sound that strides with unstoppable stiffness upon steel girder limbs with no joints. It’s a stiff gait, but a heavy one. The briefer “Steps” recalls early NYC era Sun Ra with its bleak, unbreakable baritone sax lines. “Magus,” on the other side, betrays no Miles Davis moves although it’s undeniably dark. Rather, this is where Hauf gets to the heart of who is in his band. The minimalist-noise-listen to what you’re doing, dude, heritage of the past couple decades of Chicago music making is manifest in the sheering layers of drums and querulous low reeds. It’s worth noting that this LP lasts just 26 minutes; one wonders why they didn’t cut it at 45 for maximum definition? Anyway, can’t fault the way it actually sounds.
Jesse Goin, crow with no mouth
The Next Delusion Sextet make barometric music, fluctuating, at times crushing gale force streams of energy music for our times. The three woodwind, three percussionist noise wall presses and roils, maintaining the sort of pressure you feel when the air is charged, the elements are gathering and converging from every direction, and the unrest can be felt on the skin. Next Delusion’s barometric music is ominous, in the Latinate sense, bearing an augur of something that never quite arrives. This is a massed wall noise without a climax, all ne plus ultra – but not to the point of exhaustion, as the ensemble keeps its three pieces to a total of 27 minutes. The Sextet sustains a highly pressurized atmosphere, the weight of its hyper-dense constructions quelled right at the breaking point. It is this striking quality that distinguishes Next Delusion from the free energy music of the 70’s, an obvious tributary to their music.
One might reflexively mistake the sextet, by dint of their instrumentation and the inclusion of building blocks of multiphonics, indeterminate pitches, and other scalar elements, as a capitulation to 70’s energy music. They are evocative of some of that decade’s luminaries; drummers Steven Hess, Frank Rosaly and Michael Hartman are orchestral in effect, reminiscent of 1984’s superb, short-lived Pieces of Time drum project (comprised of Milford Graves, Andrew Cyrille, Don Moye and Kenny Clarke). Baritone saxophonist and project catalyst Boris Hauf owns the timbral range and electrifying urgency of that era’s excellent, obscure baritone player Jouck Minor, whose few recorded projects burn and bruise, as does Hauf here. As was the case on Next Delusion’s inaugural release in 2010, Jason Stein and Keefe Jackson privilege timbral contrast and variety over full-lunged freak outs, their plaited and plied horn lines as dramatic as the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s most exploratory work. The antecedents of that decade are less the pure adrenaline of Archie Shepp, more the concentrated, pressured play of Cecil Taylor and Jimmy Lyons.
Next Delusion’s anticyclonic sound world is disquieting, exhortative, even, before the storm gathers, luminous, carrying on its mighty clouds a radically clarified message – “storm’s coming!” In this regard, Next Delusion couldn’t be more of our time.
freejazzblog.org, Derek Stone
In 2011, Boris Hauf gathered a sextet comprised of three reeds (himself on tenor/soprano, Keefe Jackson on tenor sax/contrabass clarinet, and Jason Stein on bass clarinet) and three drummers (Frank Rosaly, Michael Hartman, and Steven Hess, with the latter also adding electronics). The results, released as Next Delusion, were surprisingly restrained. There were moments of abandon, sure, but the predominant mood was one of brooding calm. Listening to that record was like watching the still surface of a lake, a lake in which you just knew there was some unspeakably terrifying beast. Whether or not you caught glimpses of that beast was beside the point – simply knowing that it could appear at any time was enough to make you feel uneasy.
On the group’s new outing, also called Next Delusion, it’s immediately clear that something is different. The uneasiness remains, and the compositions are just as taut and tense as before, but the sense of danger has been amplified; the proverbial flood-gates have opened up and you have no choice but to get swallowed by the deluge. The first piece, simply called “Bleed,”opens with the synchronized plodding of the drummers. It’s a dense and hypnotic rhythm, and it helps draw us down into the world Hauf has built – a world of submerged rooms, windowless, with no access to fresh air. Eventually, the reeds join in, moving together in fluid lines. The air is getting thinner, however, and a sense of urgency sets in: soon, each player goes off in different directions, producing wild offshoots and branches that give the piece a web-like structure. While Hauf stuck to tenor and soprano on the previous record, here he employs the baritone saxophone – a terrific choice that deepens the sound, fills it out, but also gives a somewhat menacing quality to the ensemble. His tone buzzes, rattles, and cuts through the composition in a deliciously diabolical fashion. In contrast, the other players, Keefe Jackson and Jason Stein, help keep the sound from getting toobogged down. If not for them, the piece would run the risk of becoming a monotonous slog. As things stand, however, Jackson’s tenor and Jason’s bass clarinet give the composition a manic buoyancy that acts as a counterweight to the rumbling low-end.
The center-piece, called “Steps,” hearkens back to the group’s previous record. It’s airy and abstract, but with an undercurrent of electricity that is not dissimilar to the charged atmosphere you can feel before the coming of a storm. The percussionists trade in the pounding drums of the last composition for sounds that are more nuanced: clanging waves, sibilant cymbal-work, and unnerving rattles. The reeds ride atop this rolling river of sound, contributing in subtle ways.
The final piece opens with the drummers locked together once again, sounding out a tribal call to battle. It builds and builds and then disintegrates, at which point the reeds engage in a tangled dance reminiscent of the first track. They continue on in this manner, sometimes frenzied and wild, sometimes serene, and then the composition comes to a close. In all honesty, this short collection of music (only 26 minutes!) could have easily been stretched out by another half-hour or so. Hauf is working with some wonderful musicians here, and the sound is a tantalizing mixture of elements I would have been happy to explore further. In any case, I highly recommend this to people who are more interested in the “textural” side of free jazz. While there are some undeniably fiery rhythms here, the real beauty lies in the atmosphere – when listening, you feel like you’re being swallowed up and subsequently crushed in the belly of a great sea-monster. Coming as I do from the Gulf Coast of Florida, I’ve experienced my fair share of hurricanes. I’ll never forget the feeling of the storm’s central eye passing overhead; you can look up and see the stars, but you do so with the full knowledge that you’re surrounded by an unthinkably immense pressure. This record can be thought of in a similar way. There’s a lot of space here, but it’s never empty.
Vital Weekly, Dolf Mulder
In 2010 Hauf made a first recording with his sextet, released two years later on Cleanfeed, titled ‘Next Delusion’ by the Boris Hauf Sextet. It took five years before Hauf invited his companions for another recording. The same players, the same unusual instrumentation: Frank Rosaly, Steven Hess and Michael Hartman on drums, plus three blowers: Keefe Jackson (tenor sax, contrabass clarinet), Jason Stein (bass clarinet) and Boris Hauf (baritone saxophone). Three drummers(!) and three blowers. An equivalent of this line up does not pop up in my mind. I guess there are none. From the musicians involved I only know Jackson and Rosaly from their work with that other European blower who has a link with Chicago: Christoph Erb. All of them operate mainly in different Chicago-based scenes. Hess, for example, is a member of the drone rock band Locrian (as a Popol Vuh-watcher I was surprised by their energetic cover of ‘Dort is der Weg’!). Logically recordings took place in a Chicago studio. Because of the backgrounds of most musicians, one expects to hear jazz. But that is not an adequate label. Nor is improvisation, as Hauf composed the three tracks that we find on this vinyl release on his newborn Shameless Records. Well then, what is it? All three pieces are composed from a very different angle. In the opening track ‘Bleed’ we have the blowers in the forefront, playing distinct but fine intertwined lines. The drummers make a contrast with a slow beat. ‘Steps’ is the opposite in a sense. Here drummers and blowers together paint a very abstract work. In this sound investigation the sounds produced result in a multi-coloured work. ‘Magus’, the third track, opens with a rolling and thundering intro by the drummers. After a few minutes the blowers start to produce their individual – improvised? – lines. There is tension and drama all over, that finds its way out in short climax. For all three compositions counts that Hauf is not seeking complexity, but seeks for something archaic and rough. Call it sound sculpting in concrete. When I try to visualize this music, I see a huge animal that is a bit uncomfortable about its size, but with a very sensitive heart. Charming!
Max McCormick, Sept 2015
“what a great big unholy sound!”
David Menestres, @AbstractTruth, Nov 2015
“When I die in the desert and the birds and coyotes are eating my organs and flesh, this is the album I hope they’ll be listening to.“
What’s in a name? It is becoming an increasingly common phenomenon for a band to become known by the title of its first album. (Prominent examples are the John Butcher group The Contest of Pleasures and the Evan Parker quartet Foxes Fox.) The latest case is Boris Hauf Sextet which released the excellent Next Delusion on Clean Feed in 2011, and now appears as Next Delusion on Hauf’s own Shameless vinyl-and-digital label with a different album of the same title.
In a world of loose or short-term associations, such name changes reassure aficionados that the group’s personnel and ethos remain unchanged from the album in question. And so it proves here, with the personnel unchanged from that Clean Feed album—Hauf himself on saxophone (baritone rather than the tenor or soprano of 2011– the only significant change here), Jason Stein on bass clarinet, Keefe Jackson on tenor sax or contrabass clarinet, drummers Frank Rosaly, Michael Hartman and Steven Hess, with the latter also on electronics; apart from Berlin-based Hauf, the rest are all Chicago-based.
Yes, that line-up is three reeds and three drummers, no other instruments. Sometimes albums list three drummers, but the small print reveals that they do not all play together. Not here, though–all three are ever-present. (Although two drummers are not uncommon, the only other group with three drummers that springs to mind is the 2015 touring version of King Crimson.) Hauf’s shift to baritone sax has made this sextet more bottom-heavy than before. Imagine the sound of baritone sax, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet and three drummers playing bass drums and tom-toms. It is no wonder this sextet lacks a bass player; one would get overwhelmed in this soundscape!
Across two sides of an LP—three tracks, twenty-six minutes—the six strut their stuff. The music is less jazzy than before but is not improv, as each piece is still a composition credited to Hauf. The music has no recognisable solos but plenty of ensemble blowing, sustained notes and interweaving, criss-crossing lines. The sextet’s rules of engagement seem to be that everyone plays most of the time. The only exception comes at the start of the final and longest track, “Magus”, when all three
drummers cut loose together, creating an exhilarating polyrhythmic tapestry, before the reeds join in together to generate a darkly brooding mood that bubbles away right to the end.
If Next Delusion ever plan to change their name again, Rolling Thunder would get my vote…
The excellent cover art says it all: burning rubber. Big thanks to @shamelessrocks for sending me a copy of The Peeled Eyed from the quartet of Hauf, Heather, Siewart and Weber. We’re talking flexing, throbbing, skronking, screaming jazz-noise-rock with plenty of low end. But it isn’t just chaotic blitz; there’s real, deal interplay: a becoming of one, so to speak. File next to Machine Gun, the Chicago of Russell and Vandermark, Borbetomagus, Sharrock and all that good stuff. Max volume, people!
le son du grisli
Après « s’être fait enregistrer » par Martin Siewert (National Parks), Boris Hauf l’invitait à prendre place dans un quartette où trouver aussi Christian Weber (basse électrique) et Steve Heather (batterie) : The Peeled Eye.
Dans les pas de Sonny Sharrock (I’ve been trying to find a way for the terror and the beauty to live together in one song. I know it’s possible), Hauf s’essaye une fois de plus – rappelons que certains de ses essais ont été concluants – non pas à un mélange des genres mais à quelques rapprochements. Le saxophone (baryton, ici) fait-il le jazz ? Et la guitare électrique, alors, le rock ? L’empêchement qui gangrène l’un et l’autre instrument dès la première plage du disque dit assez bien ce qu’il faut penser des trucs et astuces de musiciens qui s’abandonnent (presque) tous désormais à l’improvisation libre.
Les morceaux ne sont pas de même longueur, mais tous composent avec des gestes rugueux (guitare et basse peuvent rappeler les cordes électriques de The Ex) et une soif de sons inattendus (ici, un larsen à sculpter, là un tambour qui agace, ailleurs des cris de hyènes calqués sur les graves de la basse). Une atmosphère sous tensions, voilà le propos de The Peeled Eye, celui qui l’inspire, en tout cas.
Vito Camarretta, Chain D.L.K.
English-born composer, performer and multi-instrumentalist Boris Hauf recently rekindled the old flame of his own label Shameless, which reprised the production by a strictly limited edition (300 copies on yellow vinyl) of The Peeled Eye, a fourtet whose stuff got labelled as noisecore/doomjazz by Boris himself, who plays piano and baritone saxophone (the leading instrument, according to my ear response over the seven tracks of the album) along with the guitar-player Martin Siewert (we recently met his sound art within Trapist’s “The Golden” and Radian collaboration with Howe Gelb), Swiss double bass and bass player Christian Weber and drummer Steve Heather. The cover artwork looks like a hint of the idea that could evoke the listening of their music, which could be described as something in between improv, more harsh noise-punk-jazz entities (I could mention Alboth! in order to check some bands from closer regions) and Starfish Enterprises, the noisy rock band which preceded the birth of Starfish Pool. Even if I said that Boris’ baritone saxophone, which makes entrance on the abrasive session of the opening “kind of”, is the leading instrument, the role of other instruments is likewise important as you can check since the track I’ve just mentioned where the theme ignited by Boris manages to trigger a reaction the strings of Martin’s guitar and Christian’s bass sound like catching Boris’ sparks over a drumming session, which spreads the fire. The style is more or less the same over other tracks, but dynamics differ such as on the amazing “diiiiisko” (guitar interlocking within a daring variation of 4/4-driven getaway are really super!), the sooty 12-minutes lasting “heavy quarters”, which manages to evoke the ticking-time bombs of some boroughs in every city of the so-called “civilized” world, caused by almost completely untrammelled capitalism and likewise savage contemporary social mechanisms, the sense of forthcoming crash evoked by “finale”, where the wheels of The Peeled Eye’s car seem to be worn to nothing, before they seem to change tyres on the risingly furious “pp remains”. 3,5/5
Glenn Astarita, all about jazz
Berlin, Germany-based Shameless Records is managed by seasoned and well-travelled multi-instrumentalist Boris Hauf who resides as a prominent Euro-jazz improviser and experimentalist while also recording with members of Chicago’s fruitful improv circuit. No doubt, Hauf is known to trek into unchartered musical arenas, evidenced by the band Efzeg where micro-textures and minimalism often serve as a forum for expansion. But the plot thickens on the debut release of The Peeled Eye which is billed as a “noisecore/doomjazz quartet.” Fans of the New York downtown scene, guitarist Sonny Sharrock and metal-jazz should be up for the occasion as the quartet delivers more than just a few sonic booms here.
I received a CD for review, but the album is solely offered as a limited edition (300 pressings) LP and available via digital download. Otherwise, it’s evident that the musicians gave it their all on this brash outing. Hauf’s vicious baritone sax lines and electric guitarist Martin Siewart’s distortion filled skronk and grunge phrasings frame the battlefield for the ensemble’s variable improvisational exercises. They cover a surfeit of possibilities atop the rhythm section’s thrusting cadences.
On “Heavy Quarters,” streaming EFX processes paint the background, accelerated by Hauf’s ravenous choruses and Siewart’s elephantine sound-sculpting forays. Think of death metal coupled with free-jazz tactics, but they spawn inferences to Ornette Coleman’s electrified, free funk albums of the 70s and 80s during “Diiiiisko,” marked by the guitarist’s strenuously executed and jostling chord progressions above a boisterous rhythmic deportment.
The quartet consummates the album with “PP Remains,” which is a free-floating, intensifying and jaunty improv fest, featuring the frontline’s call/response dialogues, heightened by Siewart’s scraping and wily phraseology. Overall, the band zooms in for the kill as they aggressively tread through hazardous musical terrain amid a take no prisoners’ mode of operation. 4/4
Massimo Ricci, touching extremes
The Hauf/Siewert/Weber/Heather consortium just registered at the chamber of commerce of hard-socking quartets, and immediately started to work. The seven tracks of this debut album do not concede anything to bucolic serenity; from start to finish, The Peeled Eye put their robust fingers in action to knead, mold and stretch a flexible matter whose components hybridize a somewhat ominous variety of avant rock and modern-sounding free improv. The obvious point of comparison for a superficial analysis would be Last Exit, of which this unit replicates the instrumental constitution. But Boris Hauf plays baritone sax, a gradation that alone shifts the group’s racket into areas where crying out with a bleeding heart is less important than walking through the relatively contained violence of certain dark alleys.
The overall sound is extremely solid: the lower frequencies are masterfully enhanced by Christian Weber’s growling – or at the very least quietly threatening – bass, whereas Steve Heather’s rhythmic demarcations oscillate between “cleverly undomesticated” and “vigorously square”. That leaves us with Martin Siewert’s buzzsaw methods on the guitar: the disfigurement of linearity walks hand in hand with the fetishization of a putrescent type of pseudo-blues, sometimes with truly exciting effects. Still, my favorite moments belong to the 11-minute “Heavy Quarters” where, among other visions, we’re even treated with gorgeous glissandos within a mounting tension. Great beginning of a hopefully long-lasting story; now shut up, play loud and feel your ass kicked.
Massimiliano Busti, blow up magazine
l’album d’esordio del quartetto formato da boris hauf (sax bari- tono), steve heather (batteria), Martin siewert (chitarra) e chri- stian Weber (basso) evoca lo spi- rito del free europeo di stampo brotzmanniano per ricollocarlo in una dimensione aliena, laddove il basso si sfibra in oscure distor- sioni (Kind Of) e il sax si contorce nel solco di quella tradizione jazzcore che dagli inglesi God conduce sino agli Zu (Albino Fox- trot Uranus). Heavy Quarters è suono elettrico in saturazione che non sfigurerebbe nel catalogo della southern lord, mentre PP Remains chiude il tutto con un’improvvisazione rumorista e liberatoria. album di genere ma carico di notevole intensità. (7)
Bill Meyer, dustedmagazine
The four men who make up The Peeled Eye have been around a while now, long enough to forget first impressions. Certainly nothing about their self-titled debut is going to make you remember the restrained and/or minimal sounds of efzeg, Kahn-Korber-Weber, Trapist or SSSD. While a snapshot of Boris Hauf (baritone saxophone), Martin Siewert (guitar), Christian Weber (bass), and Steve Heather (drums) might cue you to think you’re going to hear jazz, what comes out of the speakers when you put the stylus down is more of a Godzilla tap-dance. Heather drums like a machine-gunner clearing out a field, Hauf’s horn flails like the tail of a toppled brontosaurus, and the guitar and drums careen like they’re crashing an audition for The Ex. The opening tune may be named “Kind Of,” but there’s nothing tentative about its determined heaviosity.
There is, however, a strategic side to The Peeled Eye’s music that refutes parts of the description proffered above. They might sound like they’re flailing, but each blow lands exactly where it’s intended. The combo’s dynamics move too fluidly from pummel to scrabble to be accidental, and when they want to ease up, the complementarity of their contrasts is far too effective to be the product of chance. “Heavy Quarters,” which occupies the second half of side one, proceeds through a sequence of bleak mood inducers — triggered film samples, slow stomp, Sonic Youth-like guitar screams — like an effective film soundtrack.
[…] The meaty satisfaction dealt by The Peeled Eye suggests that free improv apprenticeship is a worthy pre-rock tutelage.
John Eyles, All About Jazz
The Peeled Eye is the debut release from Boris Hauf’s revived Shameless label, which has switched from being a subscription-only limited edition label to releasing experimental rock, noise and pop recordings. This release is an edition limited to three hundred copies pressed on yellow vinyl. Collectable, eh?
In The Peeled Eye, Hauf’s own baritone saxophone is joined by Martin Siewert on guitar, Christian Weber on bass and Steve Heather on drums. Between them, the four members have impressive improv credentials behind them in groups such as Efzeg, Mersault and Trapist, so it was surprising to see this grouping described as “a noisecore / doomjazz quartet” with no mention of improv. Although definitions of such sub-genres tend to overlap after a while, this designation does successfully convey the bottom-heavy, density of the quartet’s soundscape as well as their music’s predominantly dark mood, a combination which makes for compelling, addictive listening.
On the seven tracks, ranging in length from just over two minutes to just over twelve, the four members meld together into an awe-inspiring unit whose adrenalin-fuelled bravado at times sparks memories of Last Exit. All four contribute equally to the ensemble sound with no pecking order at work, and no hint of a distinction between solo instruments and “rhythm section.” They all take on both roles, the four strands weaving together into a rich tapestry in which the instruments remain clearly distinguishable, never degenerating into noise.
When Hauf plays his baritone’s lower reaches, the combination with Weber’s bone-crunching bass guitar is thrilling stuff, the quartet’s trademark sound. However, this is a group of equals, with Siewert and Heather just as important to the totality. The Peeled Eye creates music that is greater than any one of the four. More soon, please, Shameless.
vital weekly #1005
A new release on Shameless, a label of Boris Hauf. Around 2001-2002 he released several
of his projects on this label. And that was it. Not that Hauf turned away from music.
Far from it. But Shameless no longer seemed a useful outlet. But now it is again, with
an excellent first release by The Peeled Eye. The quartet consisting of Martin Siewert
(guitar), Christian Weber (bass), Steve Heather (drums) and Boris Hauf (baritone sax,
piano), make a powerful and convincing statement. They are a “noisecore doomjazzquartet”
in the words of Hauf himself. They construct thick and noisy musical pieces. Seven in
total. Sometimes all seem to follow their own individual path, resulting in a wonderful
cacophonic whole, as in the opening track ‘Kind of”. Evidently free jazz is an ingredient
in their music. Also the prominent sax playing by Hauf clearly comes from a jazz attitude.
Like in ‘Heavy Quarters’ where his playing is embedded in a slow but brutal sounding
rock environment. The intro and the outro of same piece illustrate their interest for
pure sound textures. ‘Diiisko’ has Hauf and Siewert in a fine battle. In all pieces they
sound very tight and together. Complexity and rock primitivism are in a perfect blend
here. This is not just a hell of noise, but free rock at his best. (DM)
Philip Montoro, Chicago Reader:
Describing music as “deconstructed” tends to suggest a heap of dismembered limbs—a formerly vital organism reduced to its constituent parts. But while The Peeled Eye feels deconstructed, insofar as its amplified improvisations hint at patterns but rarely cohere, its implied motion is in the opposite direction, toward increasing structure. It’s as though these four musicians are applying a vast electric current to the primordial ooze of their songs, using their considerable energy to assemble an embryonic precursor of horn-fronted instrumental noise rock.
english: Together four notorious engineers design a vehicle of a different kind. No frills. Sleek design. Schematic without hierarchy: rhizome electronics. FreeJazzSax gearbox. In three seconds from zero to twelve tones. With screeching tires and drumming heartbeat the vehicle whizzes through stringed thunderstorms. On dark streets of bass-lines into a serious nothing. Unlimited Doom. A poly-logical Inferno, a decrepit ghost, a swarm, a lamenting Ghul, yet another inferno pass outside. Occasional longer stays in abandoned parking garages. Volume and degree of tonal density drop, but not the tension. The ceiling lighting flickers, raindrops whisper, windows steam up. An electronic pulse starts up the engine. In driving a motive makes its way inside the sound body, gets developed and in its best moment thrown out the window. And then again, the same. Greetings to the noise of that night, it’s tinkering, it’s punch. Hinted phrasing, amorphous force, Patterns without stencils, a fine net of questions becomes the answer. To what? Exactly. The tank is full of relations. No more space for vanities. In this dark miracle musical ride. (steroid) [translation Boris Hauf]
german (original): Vier berüchtigte Ingenieure entwerfen gemeinsam ein Gefährt der anderen Art. Kein Schnickschnack. Schlankes Design. Schaltplan ohne Hierarchie: Rhizomelektronik. FreeJazzSax-Getriebe. In drei Sekunden von null auf zwölf Töne. Mit quietschenden Reifen und trommelndem Herzschlag saust das Vehikel durch ein Saitengewitter. Auf finsteren Bassstraßen in ein schwerwiegendes Nichts. Unlimited Doom. Draußen ziehen vorbei: ein polylogisches Inferno, ein klappriger Geisterzug, ein Schwarm, ein lamentierender Ghul, noch so ein Inferno. Gelegentlich kann es zu längeren Aufenthalten in verlassenen Parkhäusern kommen. Lautstärke und Grad der Tondichte fallen ab, die Spannung nicht. Die Deckenbeleuchtung flackert, Regentropfen flüstern, die Scheiben laufen an. Ein elektronischer Impuls wirft die Maschine wieder an. Während der Fahrt gerät ein Motiv ins Innere der Klangkarosserie, es wird weiterentwickelt und in seinem besten Moment aus dem Fenster geworfen. Und dann gleich nochmals. Grüß uns den Noise dieser Nacht, ihr Gefrickel, ihren Punch. Angedeute Phrasierungen, amorphe Wucht, Patterns ohne Schablonen, ein feines Netz aus Fragen wird zur Antwort. Worauf? Exakt. Der Tank ist voll mit Relationen. Für Eitelkeiten ist kein Platz mehr. In dieser dunklen Wunderkarre aus Musik. (steroid)
Ron Walkey (Vancouver & Athens)
So I sat down in that big leather-covered armchair and put on a pair of large and efficient earphones. I wanted to give Peeled Eye some ear-time, without surrounding interference. Hear where they are ‘at.’ Out the night window of the 5th floor apartment crashes of lightening fractured their way down onto the tip of the Berlin tower. Perfect background for this music!
Let me begin with three simple things. First this is serious music. It’s not just a gig. Something fine is being played, something unified, something shared. Second, each of the musicians is an expert. Care and proficiency are felt throughout the entire work. Third, this group really cooks together — each of the four an absolute necessary part of the whole.
With that said then there’s the delight in the complexity of what sounds are being made. My ear followed one of the players, heard his path beside the others, then followed another. The musical patterns they’re working with are far from familiar to me. I paid attention. At many points cohesion is not at first obvious, each seems to be blowing to his own wind, but not so. Sitting there and listening they opened my mind to many questions, just as all good art should. Is this in some way a fractured mirror to our society, where an individual cry in the complex night might, or might not, be heard by someone else? Gone the days of total agreement to what’s groovy? Maybe. Maybe not. All sorts of tasty questions.
A lick starts, gives a hint, then peters out. The sax heads into a painful wail, or was it ecstatic? Or a complaint? Or a shout of loneliness? Rhythms build, dissolve away into somewhere else. Electronic sounds come forward to blossom, add spice, sometimes dive in, but never steal the show. A piece ends, leaving a heart-filling drone to bring momentary ear comfort. Then some tinkles off to the side before a thump. It’s a landscape, and a beautiful one.
As another flash from Zeus raced down to touch the Berlin tower. Very fitting.
At the end of the second side of that yellow vinyl disc I lifted the earphones off into the silence of the room. Moments passed before I realized there’s a clear emotional stance of urgency in this music, and it’s one I’m not particularly comfortable with. I’d probably be more soothed with a bit more space between these sound conjunctions, but that’s just me. It gets a bit desperate at times, but don’t we all. Just like life.
So, do get yourself some good earphones, slice off a bit of time and sink into what these guys are doing. They’re pros.